We all know that Google is a great resource. Ask anyone where they go to find important information and there’s a good chance that they will respond that they “Google it.” However, Google has so much more to offer beyond search capabilities. For website owners, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are necessary tools that provide vital information about the performance of the website. These tools provide an inside glimpse of how Google views the website and allows website owners to make changes as necessary. While these are arguably the most important tools for website owners to use, Google offers plenty more. One often underutilized tool is Google Alerts.
Like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, Google Alerts is also a free tool that can provide anyone (not just webmasters) with valuable web related information. All you need is a Google account and you can sign up to receive an email whenever a web page is crawled and indexed that includes any kind of content that is important to you. Google Alerts allows you to select the kind of results you’d like to receive, the frequency of communication (daily, weekly, etc.), and how many results are received (only the best, all, etc.).
Website owners/webmasters should use Google Alerts to monitor the following:
The business/brand name
Since people typically turn to the Internet for information before buying a product or deciding to hire a company for services, it’s very important that your business have a positive online reputation. The difficult thing about managing your reputation online is that in some ways, it can be out of your hands. Others outside of your company have the right to post about your business and that content can rank in the search engines too. Unfortunately, what is said might not always be positive. It’s important to monitor the brand name to be aware of what is being said and to mitigate an issue before it gets out of hand. Monitoring brand mentions can also provide the opportunity to reach out to website owners and get links when the brand name is mentioned. It’s also important to closely monitor the mentions of individuals that are closely related to the company such as the President, CEO, COO, etc.
As part of an SEO strategy, and online marketing campaign overall, it’s important to pay attention to what your competitors are up to in the online space. What is their search presence like? Where do they advertise? What kind of inbound links do they have? By monitoring competitors with Google Alerts you will have a better idea of what their online marketing strategy is like and these alerts could potentially turn you on to new link building opportunities to take advantage of.
Set up a Google alert for all of the main keywords that you are targeting on the site. Content that appears is obviously relevant to what you do. It may be a discussion in a forum or social media that you could join. Or local keywords may let you know what’s going on in your community so that you can take advantage of local advertising/sponsorship opportunities to gain exposure.